Learning How to Quit (and why it's so important)

Nov 16, 2012

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the dip

The First Thing You Need To Do Is Quit!

In order to become successful in any venture, we need to learn how to quit. I know that seems counterproductive, but understanding the principle of quitting is one of the most important step to success.


Seth Godin, a successful marketer and writer, explains in his book “The Dip” how pivotal it is for people to quit. Yet most people are focused on becoming well rounded or diversified, rather than specialize in a given venture. We live in a world of mostly “Jack’s of all trades” with a few superstars sprinkled in. So what makes the Jack, and what makes the superstar? The superstar knows that he must quit the things that he is doing that are not bringing him the desired results or outcomes, and focus his time and resources on the end goal. When Jack Welch returned to GE as CEO, he famously made a dramatic decision. He gave his business as a holistic look. Any arm of the company that was not #1, or #2 in its market, or didn’t have the potential to be very soon, he shut down as quickly as possible. As you can imagine, doing this caused some short term pain; but allowed GE to focus its investment of time and money in those market segments that they could own. A personal transformation for each of us is no different.

Personal Transformation

We need to quit the things we are doing in our life that are not moving us closer to the end goal. If we want to be a better runner, than we need to stop smoking/drinking/partying/staying up late. If you want to be a better at providing for your family, then you need to quit fooling around at work. If you want to be a better parent, you need to quit watch TV and spend time with your kids. Quitting those areas in life and focusing your investment of time and energy to the end goal is the most important step to success.

Enduring A Little Pain

Pain is always associated with quitting in the short term. That’s why we do it so little. We stick to a dead end job, or relationship, because we want to avoid the short term pain. You know that a diet of healthy foods and exercise would result in a happier life. Yet, we don’t do it because we don’t want to go through the short term pain of lifting weights and running a few miles or skipping the cheeseburger at lunch.

It Takes Work

Transformation, true transformation, takes work. Hard work and dedication (and sometimes a little pain). If you are brave enough to decided that transformation is something you are going to pursuit, then you must be ready to quit. Quit the things that are bringing you temporary satisfaction. Quit the things (or relationships) that are defining your non-transformed life. Have the guts to categorize your daily activities and personal associations, and be honest in assigning each activity moving you closer to your goal, or further away. This is a crucial, but often overlooked step.

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